Monday, 12 August 2013

Feeding the fishies

Now when one has decided to offer up ones feet for Greek fish to snack on ( which is only fair really  since they are often a snack themselves) it is important that you offer them a clean and reasonably palatable pair of heels and toes.

You should also try not to squeal when they begin their feasting!

But rather try and look like two laydees who lunch ( or are lunched on in this case!)

Old Port

The last time I was in Santorini was on a day trip from Crete with my mama. I remember us going on a tour of the island with a bus load of Israelis and then getting a little tipsy on a glass of lunchtime wine while overlooking the Caldera.
I feel Santorini has changed a little since then ( or maybe that's just early morning sobriety speaking.)
Not the views of course but there seems to be more shops and restaurants and places to stay. I think it is doing better than its poor big sister Athens.
Yes, it is still very touristy but there is still something magical about the cascading white villages and the impossibly blue sea.
Here are some requisite ' Santorini Sista' cheese shots.

Because my sister is a fitness queen and I am not opposed exercise in the direction of 'downhill', we decided to walk down to the old port of Santorini to inspect the boats.  The walk down is a windy, cobble-stoned and at times stinky path which involves frequent encounters with donkeys bottoms.  I will be the first to admit that I am not so good when surrounded by hoofed creatures at street level ( I am much happier on a horse than around them) so  it was a little bit nerve-wracking for me whereas Dena seemed to wade between the sea of bottoms with confident aplomb.

I am pleased to report that all the donkeys looked very well fed and in excellent condition. I remember them to be in quite a grim state when I saw them years before so it was nice to see them looking so sleek and round. The lady running our little pension even suggested that perhaps the men take better care of their donkeys than their wives. She did not make this observation with a smile.

Once at the bottom we inspected the boats and drank cappuccinos

before deciding to do our bit to support the donkey industry. Not that I think many of the beasts were donkeys anyway - they were definitely more horse-like in stature. 


Donkey cam

Made it!!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Third Port: Santorini

So even though I have now left Skyros it was for a good reason as I am now in Santorini with my sister. We met at Athens airport where I joyfully devoured all manner of greasy food ( to quell a queasy stomach) and then it was up, up and away on a plane to Fira. The flight was wonderful because it did a spectacular sweeping pass over the island just around sunset which made all the passengers sigh and think cocktail thoughts.
As we arrived in the evening there was not much to be done but admire the pretty streets, eat and drink wine.

Only 3 days

Well, three days on Skyros was never really going to be enough but I did get to bathe my feet in her perfect waters and watch the sun set across her beautiful curves.
I am grateful for this.
I had hoped to see Hara on my trip here but an awful tragedy befell her lovely family on the day before I arrived on the island so it simply wasn't the right time to see her. My heart goes out to her family at this time, especially little Julietta.

a recent picture of Hara
I don't need to see Hara to love her anyway. And I can still contribute from afar to her upkeep so I know I have a part in her little doggy life.

Heh, in the car on the way to Skyros airport a bee flew through the car window, stung me on the arm and then flew out the other side. As I watched the welt on my arm get bigger and redder I wondered if I had an allergy to bees or not. No allergy it turns out but a nice parting gift. Hopefully the bee took his sting with him too since I couldn't find it in my arm.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Greek Binchey

The main church bell in Skyros town
which watches over us all night
I have decided that Skyros is a bit like a Maeve Binchey novel. Full of odd little characters who return each summer to laze in the sun and drink too much ouzo. OK maybe Maeve's characters function on pints of beer instead but the idea is same.  There is the Swedish Psychotherapist who wears only white; the Dutch party gal who has been coming here since she was a child; the Greek family with an endless supply of daughters ( another one has been added to the mix since I saw them last year); the old fisherman with diamond blue eyes whose face lights whenever I say 'kalimera'; the Athenian woman who sees angels everywhere; the staff at Ferogia of course and Alecko's mother-in-law who always compliments me on my dresses. In a way our relationships are all very superficial since we don't have anything to do with each other for the rest of the year. But in another way they are very honest too. We talk about our past year and how we are feeling now. We ask and give advice and we drink far too much wine and eat too much shrimp and dance to cheezy music until  well into the night. I find with each year that passes I am invited a little more deeply into this world as the people who have been coming longer than me start accepting me as part of their family. They can see I am not a one-off visitor. That I love their island as much as they do. I commented to one person how I felt like an outsider slowly inching my way in a little further each year. He seemed surprised. " But you are already iconic!" he said. " You are the stone painter." I almost felt obligated to start painting there and then but I resisted and ate a plate of seafood instead -  which I regretted most heartily a few hours later.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Second Port: Skyros

I feel much better now I am in Skyros. I wasn't sure if I would but the minute I stepped into Ferogia Cafe and got beautiful heartfelt monster hugs from Vikki, Dimitri and Alecko I felt infinitely more alive. And this year I got a rather nice room with a little balcony gazing out to the sea. 
Now, it seems, I am gazing towards Turkey instead of from!
Of course the first thing I did was have a banana smoothie. Then, with a happy belly,  I waded into the crystal still waters and did my best to avoid collecting too many stones. This year I am NOT stone painting. To be honest I am only on the island for a couple of days so I doubt the paint would even dry but I also wanted to spend my days just gazing at the olive green, white and blue which make up this gentle island.

I spent my first night having Skyrian cheese and salad at Theo's restaurant just down from Ferogia. Not a bad view to do a bit of a digesting and vino degustation. Theo says the past year has been even harder than the years before. I believe him too. Athens, in particular, seemed very depressed and though the Greeks on the island still smile and laugh their faces seem a little pinched as well.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

First Port: Athens

Have just finished distributing Three-Paws rations to neighbours and flatmates...... and.....I am finally on holidays.

If I am honest I am wondering if Athens was a good first choice. It seems like a very poor and distant cousin of that glamster Istanbul. Except instead of kebab you have souvlaki, instead of Raki you have Ouzo, instead of lokum you have lokoumi and instead of baklava well actually you still have baklava. Perhaps somewhere totally different would have felt a bit more like a change. Still they do sell rather lovely skin products in Greece so I can happily slather  myself in freebies for a few good hours while I wonder if Three-Paw has been fed her first packet of fishy goodness yet.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Kazanci Street...these days

On Kazanci Street I am on first name basis with
Ozman  who runs the local Kahve (men's tea shop) next door. He is also an excellent supplier of Ramazan Pide; Esre, the pet shop keeper; Deniz who lives above me; Jimmy the boot-cleaner although now I come to think of it I wonder if his name really is Jimmy. Johnny perhaps...but Jimmy? And Kirim, the record producer with a not-so-secret love of four-legged friends. Every day I pass him walking his big black Labrador and he tells me the story of one of the street cats - of Wonky Ear who had an accident with a car and had to be fed through a tube for three months because his jaw was smashed or The Lion who he rescued from an abandoned building site and has a heart as gentle as a sleeping bird.
The Lion

Wonky Ear
I am on Merhaba basis with the local shop and cafe owners, all the men at the tea shop next door and the local kuafor ( Don't you love Turkish spelling.) The poor Kuafor is so bored and customer-less he is always trying to get me to come in for a free vitamin treatment. I think if he doesn't touch hair at least once a day he gets twitchy.

I am on Hand-kissing basis with the local real estate agent. He did it once and now he does it every time. I feel awkward, especially when I've just been up to my arms in cats but he does not seem to mind so it is easier to let him than to stop him now.

I am on Nodding basis with the lads at the local mechanic shop and I am on Sweet-sharing basis with Anil the local boy.

And then of course I am on Patting basis with Three-Paw, The Lion, Wonky Ear, Grandma, Tabby 1-3, Sucky, Snotface, Plucky...etc
My street is quite special I think. An old style treasure the likes of which will one day be lost. I imagine there will be a story one day on Kazanci Street.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Royalty goodness

I got a royalty payment from the Clockwork Phoenix publishers the other day. That means 10 more meals for Three-Paw and one bar of Brownie Gold for me. It’s good when these teeny-weeny payments come -  they remind me to write. 
To keep writing.

Actually I have been trying to work on my writing of late. I would like to finish my elephant novel this year.

Sometimes though all I write about are snippets for stories that may never be. Or notes that simply must be written because carrying the words around inside is too much of  a burden.